The capital of the Balkan nation of Albania-Tirana-is a surprising marvel of architecture, where multiple styles blend together in the city center. Next to splendid nineteenth century examples of Italian design, stark Soviet structures, and those developed by Tito’s communist regime, live side by side.
Wikipedia writes, In the 18th and 19th century, Albanian medieval towns underwent urban transformations by various Austro-Hungarian and Italian architects, giving them the appearance of western European cities; this can be particularly seen in Tirana and Korçë. They introduced architectural styles such as Historicism, Art Nouveau, Neo-Renaissance and Neoclassicism.
Following the establishment of communism in Albania, the country’s architecture development was radically changed by the socialist ideology and numerous historic and sacred buildings across Albania were demolished. Many socialist-styled complexes, wide roads and factories were constructed, while squares in major towns were redesigned.
If you’re in Italy, and want an inexpensive, wonderful side trip to see the unexpected, a couple days in Tirana is an excellent choice.